Dear Rebecca

I think you may have misunderstood my intention, if it is in fact me
that you are quoting. I am 100% in agreement with what you say here

In <[log in to unmask]>
you wrote via [log in to unmask]:

> If the primary concern for ISO 639 was only bibliographical use of the
> codes, we would not have gone through what we did in the 10+ years of
> development of a 3-character code in having alternative codes.

I hadn't made that comment: that comment was Michael's. Obviously
the ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee aims to satisfy the
constituencies of both ISO/TC46/SC4 and ISO/TC37/SC2, in maintaining
ISO 639 and ISO 639-2.

> ... A recent message (I think from John Clews) made a comparison
> between various codes and listed ISO 639-2/B and ISO 639-2/T codes
> separately.

I usually list them in parallel columns if I quote them, but the
intention is that they are _always_ just different codes for the same
language with _exactly_ the same meaning.

> In discussions at the ISO 639 registration authorities meeting in
> conjunction with TC37 in August, we all agreed that the few cases
> where there are alternative codes (only 21 out of 450+) should be
> considered synonyms, rather than different code sets.

Exactly - they _have_ to be synonymns, and the meaning is exactly the
same. I have been trying to hammer this into the UK committee for
ISO/TC37 - some of the members of that have, quite wrongly, tried to
find other meanings for different codes, where different codes exist.
I have always totally disagreed with that, which was apparently
misrepresented as a UK viewpoint.

> Thus the distinction between the
> bibliographic and terminologic is essentially unimportant. We have since
> updated the code lists on our Web site to discontinue the use of separate
> columns for the /B and /T, but rather to list them as synonyms
> (

Well, that's so whether they are shown in separate lists, as on the
LC web site, or in parallel columns, as I often show them. I hope
that their exact synonymity is clear in both cases.

In passing, was NISO Z39.53 (the US national standard equating to ISO
639-2) passed, exactly as it stood, as the final draft on NISO's web
site? I haven't had time to check out the final situation. I assume
that no changes were likely to it.

It's a very nice standard, is NISO Z39.53 - very straightforward.

Best regards

John Clews

John Clews,
Keytempo Limited (Information Management),
8 Avenue Rd, Harrogate, HG2 7PG
Email: [log in to unmask]
tel: +44 1423 888 432;

Committee Member of ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC22/WG20: Internationalization;
Committee Member of ISO/TC37: Terminology